BEIJING, China – Some of the more notable quotes from Saturday’s news conferences at the China Open.
Q. You have already entered the quarterfinal in China Open. Are you satisfied with your performance in China Open for the past two years?
MARION BARTOLI: Yes, yes, I’m very pleased and happy to be back in the semifinal here. I had really a good tournament this year. I felt I really played some good matches. And even though today if I lost, I think it was still a great match.
It was great obviously to spend my birthday here in Beijing, and I received a lot of presents from all my fans. It was really nice.
They sang Happy Birthday after my match when I played on my birthday, so, yeah, I think it was really cute. Obviously now I’m flying back home. I will spend my birthday with my family. I will open all my presents and everything. I’m looking forward to that. I had really a nice week here.
Bartoli was asked about the possibility of playing Fed Cup next year for France and if she has spoken to the new captain Amélie Mauresmo or the French Tennis Federeation:
We have been talking to each other during the US Open with Amélie, and I think she haven’t take her decision yet.
I can’t really answer to you right now, because obviously it’s her decision. I think she didn’t took it yet. So maybe it will happen a bit later in the year.
Am I thinking about the Fed Cup? Yes, of course. I’m thinking about my country, so that’s why we had this meeting. Obviously the decision belong to the captain, and she haven’t taken yet. So we will see later.
Bartoli asked if she has had time to paint, as she is a painter in her spare time:
Well, it was tough because I was very busy on the court obviously. The junction between Tokyo and here has been pretty rough, as well.
But I do love painting, and that’s something I really like to do when I’m off the court. For example, during Grand Slam when I have a day off between each matches, it’s really much more time for me to do that. For example, in New York I had the pleasure to do it, but obviously that’s really something I like to do to take my stresses away to think about something other than just playing tennis. That’s my way of relaxing.
for me this year. I think it’s a great building for next year.
Bartoli on whether or not she’ll see the new James Bond Skyfall, since she’s a fan of 007:
That’s funny. Yes, when I will have the chance to not play tennis at the end of the season I will definitely go and watch.
It was obviously very nice and special for me to meet Pierce Brosnan in person and to receive some flowers from him and get a personal note. That’s definitely something that’s not happening every day in your life.
So I had that pleasure in 2007 to meet him, and that was even more special because I played the Wimbledon final 7th of July in 2007, so it was a lot of 07 into that date.
Obviously I really like those kind of movies, and I will definitely go.
Q. My question is not related to the tournament. We all believe that you are a pretty girl no matter on the court or off the court. You are representative of fashion. You carry this bag to the court and to this press conference. Can you tell me what might be the secret inside your bag?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Inside my bag?
My credential, my two phones, and a water. That’s it. I don’t even know why I’m carrying it with me. That’s it. (Laughter.)
Q. Can you tell me what kind of strategy does your coach give to you? When Thomas started to coach you, I think your performance is very much good. What kind of help does Thomas bring to you? Did Thomas give you specific guidance about playing against Li Na because he knows her game really well?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Thomas is a very experienced coach before he started working with Li Na. I have played Li Na many times before, so I think it’s just about kind of knowing what has worked against her in the past and trying to use that.
I have beaten her the last couple of times. Before that I had a few losses. It’s not so much important to focus on what your opponent is doing; more so trying to be confident in your game and enforcing that during the match.
Li Na has so much experience. She’s a Grand Slam champion. You know going into the match that this is going to be a difficult match. She can come back. She certainly is capable of playing high‑level tennis.
So it’s important to try to keep that level as long as you can during the match.
Q. You have drawn a lot of big crowds to your matches all throughout the tournament, and they’ve mainly been cheering for you. Today the crowd was decidedly against you and for Li Na. Do you think you felt that in the first set? Do you think you were feeling jitters early and that’s why you weren’t performing quite as well as you were later in the match where you got more used to it?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I have been part of many matches where I have played against someone that’s playing in a home crowd. Of course you feel the energy change a little bit, but as far as it affecting me and letting it bother me, not so much.
I think maybe my first time in that type of atmosphere, let’s say, I needed to take it in and really learn from it. But I have been part of so many of those situations that it’s so understandable going into a match that you know she’s playing in her home country. She’s going to have the support.
But I really thought that they were more for her than against me, which is ‑‑ I thought all in all, they were pretty respectful of both of us.
Q. It seems you can always turn tough matches around. We all remember what happened in Rome and same today. My question is where does a player get that mental toughness? You are you born with it or it’s trainable or you get it from your growing‑up experience?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I think it’s a combination. I think a lot of it is when you’re young. I think your upbringing and maybe the people that are around you help you. I have been in the sport for so many years, since I was young, and I moved to a new country when I was seven years old. So there are a lot of things I had to kind of battle through and be on my own and kind of mature by myself.
In that time, I mean, I learned a lot about being competitive and not just in the sport but in life, as well. But I feel like I have been like that in other aspects of things, whether it’s, you know, trying to eat faster than others or if there is a competition, win a board game. I have always had a really competitive spirit.
As far as tennis, it’s just where I really ‑‑ I feel like the court is where I belong and where I really want to, you know, compete and fight no matter what the score is or situation is. Whether I’m down, and it can be match point, I still always believe I can turn it around.
Azarenka came in to press donning a t-shirt of herself holding the Australian Open trophy.
Q. So during the US Open you were pretty tight with Redfoo from LMFAO. What was your response to them breaking up?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Oh. (Smiling.) I’m not sure that I should be answering that because I don’t think that they broke up because they weren’t really a couple.
Q. The band broke up.
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Yeah, I think they are just taking their own solo careers and that’s fair enough. I guess they’ll figure it out. They’re big boys.
Q. Can you make comments on your performance of this match? There is a big difference between set 1 and set 2. What might be the reasons for that?
LI NA: I think I played the match pretty well today. Don’t you think I have a very good performance here today?
I can see that she had a better performance than I did, and she had better control of the match.
Q. In the very beginning I watched the match, but I am influenced by the spectators. Are you influenced by the spectators, as well?
LI NA: I want to say that it’s lucky that you’re not professional player. I should have a better performance than you, because anyway, I stay till the last minute of the match.
Q. I feel that actually in the first set your balls are very much even in terms of the performance. At your last service game, something goes wrong. Can you talk about your last service game? Recently you have been making an adjustment to your service gesture or motion. Does that influence your service in that game?
LI NA: I think my overall performance here today is good. I think I have a very good performance, but if you don’t believe so, it’s your personal argument.
I saw English newspaper today that Li Na is very much happy to be eligible to participate in WTA Final because she participate into WTA Final as a substitute last two years. Actually, to be frank, I didn’t get interview from that English newspaper, but actually, the information has been disclosed on that English newspaper. That’s really ridiculous.
Q. Can you tell me what might have been the arrangement for your coach before you participate into the match. What’s your relationship with your ex‑coach, Thomas? Can you make a comparison in terms of coaching staff between Thomas and Carlos?
LI NA: I don’t think they are comparable with each other, because everybody is different. For journalist they are different. Players are different. Coaches are different. Everybody will be different.
There’s nothing to compare with each other.
Q. After the match today, you’re ready to prepare for WTA Final. What kind of a plan do you have in this regard?
LI NA: It’s just the end of this match. I will give myself two or three days to make adjustment. I will travel to Germany first. I will meet again with my team in Istanbul to prepare for WTA Final.
Q. When you prepare for WTA Final, I’m not sure whether WTA has already given you the options for you to choose your dress.
LI NA: You want to know?
LI NA: I will not tell you that. I will not tell you that. Actually, I was only told last night that I’m eligible to participate in WTA Final.
Also, I only got e‑mail from WTA officials. They want to send their congratulations to me, but actually, I have no information about the dressing style for WTA. I will tell you upon availability of that information.
Q. Since we are talking about the dressing style of the WTA Final, you have already participated in WTA Final twice before. So which dress in the past do you think suits you, suits your personality pretty well?
LI NA: I only participate into one party, and I got e‑mail from WTA last year during the US Open asking me to make a choice about the dressing. I picked a traditional‑style Chinese dress last year.
This year I’ve yet to receive an e‑mail from the WTA Final organizer committee about the dressing options, so I don’t know yet.
Q. So this season is really long. In that case, you don’t have much time to have a break. So what kind of a plan do you have for next season?
LI NA: I think I will be more positive. I will be more, you know, excited for next season. Since my cooperation with Carlos, we have a very pleasant cooperation, our whole team. We have goal. That is to say we will participate into WTA Final.
So eventually, at the last minute, we make our wish possible. In that case, I’m very much satisfied with my performance and the past decision. After termination of the season, I’m going to work out the plan for next season. We will have a meeting with my team to find out what will be the objective for next year.
Q. You’re turning 31 soon. Andy Roddick just retired, and he’s 30, 31. Do you have any plans to maybe retire or are you going to keep going strong?
LI NA: So are you thinking 31 is too old or what?
Q. No, I’m just asking.
LI NA: No, I think the age is nothing. Just in the paper, plus one and one again. I was feeling right now I was healthy. I still can running on the court. I’m still top in the world. Why I should stop? I should continue my dream and just keep going.
Q. Getting to the semifinal is a huge achievement, but do you think the Chinese media will be critical of you because you failed to give them a home winner?
LI NA: I don’t know about Chinese media. You should ask them. They’re sitting behind you.
For me, I was happy to be in the semi in China Open because last year I didn’t do well. Also, I know if I doing well I can be in Istanbul, so is more important for me.
Also, you know, it’s a big tournament, only big tournament in China, so I really want to show a lot of Chinese how good I am.
Like today, I was try my best in the court, but I only can say Maria was better than me. I have a lot of hard work in here. Yeah, really looking forward for the Champions and also for next year.
Q. Last year in the second round you played with a Chinese opponent (Ze Zhang), the same guy who actually defeated Richard Gasquet this year. Do you maybe watch the match a little bit? Do you feel surprised?
JO‑WILFRIED TSONGA: Yeah, I watched the match. No, I was not surprised. I practiced with him also many times. He’s a really good player. I mean, he’s complete, and I’m sure he will improve a lot next couple of months.
You know, Richard played in Bangkok and played well. So of course it was not a surprise to see him beat him. But anyway, you know, he’s a good player.
Q. Good afternoon, Jo. If I remember correctly, you got your first ATP win in Beijing in 2004. So after eight years you are in the final here in the same place. Do you think Beijing is a lucky place or a special place for you? My second question is: What’s your expectation for tomorrow’s final?
JO‑WILFRIED TSONGA: I will answer the first question first. My expectation is of course to win it. Like I said, I feel really well here in China and especially at the China Open.
You know, I had some good memories here, because for me it was something new to play on the ATP Tour. Anyway, you know, this moment will stay in my memories forever. It was also the first time I played against a top 10 and the first time I won against a top 10.
So I remember this moment like if it was, you know, yesterday. Yes, of course if I win tomorrow it’s going to be something really special here for me.
Q. After Murray winning the US Open and fulfilling his own dream, do you think that people’s attention will be moving to you, Berdych, and even Juan Martin Del Potro? They want you guys to challenge the Big 4?
JO‑WILFRIED TSONGA: Yeah. They are still the Big 4. I mean, Andy took some time to win a Grand Slam, but he was already a very good player. He won many tournament 1000. And anyway, he was a good player, really good player even without this Grand Slam.
But, yeah, of course, you know, now people will wait for somebody like Berdych, Del Potro, I mean, you know, to win it. I hope we will do it.
Q. The tournament upgraded the players’ lounge and the players’ restaurant this year. How do you find them? What’s the part that you enjoy most?
JO‑WILFRIED TSONGA: What the part I enjoy the most?
Q. Video games?
JO‑WILFRIED TSONGA: No, I don’t play the video games. Yeah, maybe the player lounge. I mean, it’s cool. It’s relaxed.
Yeah, that’s it.
Q. Can you talk a little bit about just this year? I know there are a few more weeks. But obviously, to most people’s standards, a great year for you, but compared to your standard of last year, not the same. Talk about that a little bit.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, there’s not much to talk about, really. It’s a different year. I don’t like to make any comparisons.
It was really difficult to ask myself to repeat what I had done in 2011. Going six months without losing a match is almost, you know, almost impossible.
So I have played the best tennis of my life, but I still feel that since last year I am physically better. You know, I didn’t face any injuries throughout 2012, which is important for me. You know, I lost a couple of important matches in the Grand Slams and Olympic Games, but look, you know, that’s sport. It’s up and down.
But I still feel that I had a very, very consistent year. I put myself in the position to be No. 1 of the world in the end of the year. That is always a great task, and it is also a great indication of how well I played throughout the season.
Q. Can you talk about your two little brothers, please? I understand they are trying to play professional tennis on tour level, but still a lot of years. The youngest one is playing challengers right now. Can you talk a little about them, please.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, they have their own ambitions and their own tennis path, which has to be different than mine. So they are aware of that.
Obviously they had to face a lot of difficulty, mental pressure and expectations of them being in that position of being, you know, my younger brother.
So it was very difficult for them to kind of develop and practice without any pressure in that way. So it is what it is, and they are maturing as a person.
So Marko is 21 years old. He’s been playing challengers. He’s around 600 in the world. Djordje is 17. He has his first couple of ATP points in futures.
It’s a long road. They are aware of that. It takes a lot of time, takes a lot of effort. You know, I think they are mentally breaking through and realizing that they have to respect their own path.
I’m trying to help them as much as I can, always be there for them, advise them. And, you know, in one way it is good to have, you know, a brother who is the top of the men’s game because then you have maybe some wildcards or you have maybe all the facilities and conditions you need in order to become a professional player. But in the other hand, you have to face all these mental struggles, I guess, you know, and expectations from yourself and from everybody else.
So we’ll see what happens.